According to figures released to Upper Bann MLA Jo-Anne Dobson at the Assembly, the trust disposed of assets worth £1,159,000.
Mrs Dobson asked the Health Minister for a detailed breakdown on the number and estimated value of items disposed of by each health trust over the past three years.
From 2011/12, the trust disposed of 29 items with a net value of £134,000. In 2012/13 this rose to 241 items valued at £581,000. Last year 2013/14, 72 items were disposed of at a value of £444,000. The Northern Trust was the only one with a higher value of disposed items coming in at £1.4m.
Mrs Dobson said, “Local people have raised with me their concerns that medical equipment, including walking aids are disposed after use rather than medically cleaned and made available for reuse. Given the current constrained financial conditions which our Trusts are facing they need to start thinking more about how they can recycle and reuse often expensive items to free up all important funding for our front line services. I have raised the issue with successive Health Ministers at Stormont as I feel that we need to be turning more effort towards finding savings rather than cancelling surgical appointments.
“I am concerned that the continued disposal of medical items, at considerable cost, could be draining important resources and diverting funds from front line care.”
A Southern Trust spokesperson said, “The trust is required (under regulations) to condemn equipment (medical, community, IT etc.) which is; broken or obsolete, has a fault with no replacement parts available or where it is not economical to repair the equipment. All IT equipment has to be disposed of in strict accordance with the Information Commissioner requirements.
“Other condemned equipment may also have to be replaced for clinical reasons (eg new guidelines). The disposal of condemned equipment does not generate an income but suitable items are donated to local charities, where possible.”